|Kierkegaard – “If you name me, you negate me. By giving me a name, a label, you negate all of the other things I could possibly be.”|
The label you give someone does not reflect all that they will do or be in their life. Labels are comparisons & judgements based on your own individual realities; your opinions.
Labels such as “addict” cause you to discredit the human being behind the label. The person may very well be addicted, where addiction is a behavior. A behavior is not the human being; it is merely a behavior that the human being is doing or did.
When you label someone, you make assumptions about that person based on the label. Take the label “addict” & what comes to mind? Whatever comes to your mind is filtered through your beliefs, beliefs which were formed based on your individual experiences in life. If the person labeled as an “addict” were your son or daughter, you may have a different association to the word “addict”. Within that situation, you still have your own individual values that feed your beliefs & attitudes about the “addict”. One parent may exhibit the behavior of co-dependency & denial, while another may exhibit behavior that is more closely related to patterns of tough love, & other possibilities. The child of the “addict” will have a different experience of the “addict” & thus will associate their labels of the human being differently based on their experiences.
You form your values, beliefs, & attitudes through your experiences & how you internalize those experiences throughout your life stemming from the judgements you make about those experiences. The judgements & the experiences compound.
Labeling people creates an environment of division, an “us” against “them” mentality. If you say someone is one thing, then they cannot be anything else. If you say that someone is different from you, then that automatically places a division line between them & you.
Labels are different from descriptions. Labels alter your perceptions, morphing that which you are labeling into something that, in reality, it is not. Description is more factually based & mostly observable. The label “stuck-up” implies many other negative labels about a person, but by describing her behavior instead may lead to other possibilities. Saying “she is sitting alone” or “she is not talking to anybody” leaves it open for other interpretations. Until you truly get curious about her & talk to her, you do not truly know anything about the girl.
Labels can be positive or negative, based on the speaker’s intent & on the perception of the listener. They do not necessarily have any basis in fact & are basically opinions.
In all reality, we are all human beings … being.